Designing a New Programme of Study

To get to this stage, writing the detail of the programme and the curriculum itself, you will need to have completed the following actions:

  • Had a Proof of Concept approved by the Programme Management Board
  • Received a Market Intelligence Report
  • Had a New Programme Proposal approved for full development

Who should Develop Programmes?

Programmes can be developed by any member of academic staff, and the documentation can also be completed by appropriate administrative staff if required, provided an academic oversees the development. Often the programme developer will become the Programme Director, but this is not always the case.

Programme development is often a useful exercise to help staff to progress and develop their own skill set and experience. Where a programme developer is not experienced, they should be supported by a more experienced member of staff throughout the development process. Support and training for all programme developers is available from Academic Quality Services.

Swansea University ensures that academic staff students and other stakeholders are developed and supported.

This aspect is aligned to Guiding Principle 5 for Course Design and Development set out in in the Advice and Guidance associated with to QAA UK Quality Code.

What is a Programme Delivery Plan and How can I get One?

A Programme Delivery Plan will be developed with the Faculty/School Proposal Team by Academic Quality Services following approval to proceed to full development by the Programme Management Board. This is a project plan detailing the steps and milestones required to ensure your new programme is approved within the required timeframe, and ideally is based on the Programme Development Timeline. However, each Programme Delivery Plan is bespoke to the specific project and timeframe available. Academic Quality Services will provide project management support for the development throughout the process.

Following the outcome of the Programme Management Board, Academic Quality Services will contact the Development Lead to discuss and agree a Programme Delivery Plan.

How Much Work will I have to Put in to Develop a New Programme?

Developing any new ‘product’ requires a considerable investment in terms of time and effort. The amount of work invested into developing a new programme is no different – after all, some international students could be paying over £45,000 for an undergraduate programme in tuition fees alone!

The amount of time and effort is normally reflected in the quality of the programme which is approved and delivered to students – the more you put in at the start, the higher quality the programme will be, the easier the approval process and therefore the better the student experience when it comes to delivery.

How Long will it Take to Complete a Programme Proposal?

It is difficult to say exactly how long it will take to complete a new programme proposal from scratch as it will depend on the content, the availability of previous information relating to the programme and your available time and expertise. The timing of internal committees is also a factor. However, it is possible to speed up the process through close cooperation with Academic Quality Services and or Collaborative Partnerships Directorate. The ideal timeframe for development is set out in the Programme Development Timeline.

You should consider allowing a minimum of at least 12-15 weeks from initial concept to final approval (including 4-6 weeks for completion of the market intelligence report by Student Recruitment). If you are experienced in programme development, or basing your development on high quality existing documentation, you may be able to complete the development and approval process more quickly, but we do not recommend rushing the development. Attempting to shortcut the development process increases the likelihood of failure at the approval phase, with the ultimate effect of lengthening the overall development time. It may where required, be possible to hold special boards/committees in order to drive a programme forward, but this should not be considered as the norm.

What are the Timeframes for Development?

The recommended timeframes for programme development are provided in the Programme Development Timeline. New programmes are more likely to recruit strongly if development is aligned to a clear marketing strategy, including publication of marketing materials, notably the University prospectuses, which are still utilised by a large number of applicants and their parents/advisors. Faculty/School Programme Developers should therefore normally be considering development strategies at least 2-3 years in advance of the planned launch date, please see table below:

Month  Action 


(delivery year -2) 

Initial discussions of ideas within the Faculty/School, and with relevant professional services departments/committees 


(delivery year -2) 

Consideration and approval within the Faculty/School (Board of Studies & Faculty/School Learning and Teaching Committee) 


(delivery year -2) 

Deadline of consideration of New Programme Proposals by Programme Management Board.  Consideration by Collaborative Partnership Board, if required 


(delivery year -1) 

Consideration of any new/amended regulations by the Academic Regulations and Cases Board,  due diligence reviews by the Collaborative Board (as necessary) 


(delivery year -1) 

Last date for submission of programme proposals for consideration by the Programme Approval and Maintenance system Committee for a programme starting the following September. 


(delivery year -1) 

Final date for Full Validation Events by the Programme Approval Committee for new programme proposals starting in the following academic cycle. 


(delivery -1) 

Final date for fulfilment of conditions of programme approval imposed by Programme Approval Committee. 


(delivery -1) 

Ratification of programme approval by the Learning, Teaching & Quality Committee and by Senate. 


(delivery -2) 

Swansea University Publications and UCAS deadline. 
September/October  Launch of new programme. 

Naturally, there will be some occurrences whereby requests from external partners or swift responses to emergent markets or competitors will be required, but evidence shows that programmes that are clearly aligned with recruitment strategies and schedules are likely to recruit more strongly. 

What are the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) Levels and How do they Affect me?

The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) is a nationally agreed framework which is designed to ensure a consistent use of qualification title and levels across the sector, through the use of qualification descriptors. Along with Programme Specifications, Subject Benchmark Statements and the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, the Framework is a key part of the Academic Infrastructure. When developing or reviewing a programme or module, you must ensure that the award level, programme and module outcomes are compliant with the levels outlined below:

Swansea Award  FHEQ Level 
Senior Doctorates – DSc, DLitt, LLD  level 8 
Professional Doctorates – DProf, EngD  level 8 
Doctorates – PhD, MD  level 8 
Masters Degrees – MPhil, MRes, MA, MBA, MSc, LLM  level 7  

Postgraduate Diploma 

Postgraduate Certificate 

level 7 
Advanced Initial Degrees – MEng, MMath, MPhys, MOst  level 7 
Honours Degrees – BA, BA (Ord), BEng, LLB, BMid, BN, BSc, GradCert, GradDip 


level 6 

Intermediate Level awards – Foundation Degrees (FdA, FdEng, FdSci), DipHE  level 5 
Certificate Level – HECert, Foundation Year Certificate (as an integrated level 0 of a degree programme)   level 4 

How do I use Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Subject Benchmark Statements when Developing my Programme?

Relevant QAA Subject Benchmark Statements (you may need to refer to more than one where relevant – for example for interdisciplinary programmes) should be used as the first point of developing a new programme, and should form the basis for programme review, to ensure programmes are enhanced and developed within the frameworks of the Subject Benchmarks. You should ensure that your new, revised or current programme is clearly informed by and aligned to the relevant Subject Benchmark Statement(s). Where appropriate or relevant Subject Benchmark Statements are not available, particularly for Level 7 study, equivalent undergraduate subject benchmarks can be extrapolated to Level 7 using the relevant QAA qualification descriptors and the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications level descriptors, to provide some level of consistency.

Programme developers can clearly demonstrate alignment with the relevant subject benchmarks through curriculum mapping, which is an integral part of curriculum design and can be used to demonstrate coherence between the module and programme outcomes, and Subject Benchmark or other external agency requirements. It should be noted that the QAA has recently embarked upon a systematic review of Subject Benchmarks. You should ensure that you are familiar with the most up to date version.

How do I Request a New Award Nomenclature?

If you require a new award nomenclature for your programme proposal, this will need to be proposed to and approved by the University’s Learning, Teaching & Quality Committee before the programme is formally submitted for review by the Programme Approval Committee.

Complete the Request for New Award Nomenclature Form and submit to

Please contact Academic Quality Services for support and guidance.

How do I Request a Change of Regulations?

If your new programme will require an amendment to existing regulations (programme or assessment), or will require a specific set of regulation (e.g. for some professional programmes), then a request for the amendments or new regulations must be submitted to and approved by the Academic Regulations and Cases Board prior to submitting the programme for approval. If you think you will need new or amended regulations, please contact Academic Quality Services at the earliest opportunity to discuss requirements.

How do I set up Additional Entry Awards or Modes of Study?

Additional entry awards, for example Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas linked to MSc programmes, full and part-time programmes or multiple programme pathways, are set up in the same way as standard programmes and should be approved together for efficiency. Once the key information is recorded for one version of the programme (normally the highest award), this can then be ‘cloned’ within the Programme Approval and Management system and amended to reflect the additional programme/pathway/exit point, to ensure repetition is minimised. This process ensures that each programme is assigned a unique route code to accurately record each student’s information.

All programmes or pathways must have specific information which is unique to that programme, but can (and should) be aligned to the associated programmes.

For part-time programme variants, the programme information will normally be identical, but further information which outlines how the programme can be delivered on a part-time basis, and how this may affect the student experience, must be included.

For further information, please contact Academic Quality Services.

What are Exit Qualifications?

Exit qualifications are awards which rewards student achievement only when they do not complete the original award for which they enrolled, but have completed sufficient credits to be eligible for an award at a lower level. For example, a student who achieves 120 taught credits at Level 7 but does not complete the final dissertation or project would not be eligible for the Award of the Master’s Degree, but would be eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma.

All programmes should have relevant exit qualifications specified, which must be based on existing award nomenclature and be within existing regulations. Full information on the credit requirements for awards can be found in the Academic Regulations. The Exit Qualifications should be requested in the programme approval stage, rather than submitting a further proposal at a later stage.

How do I Complete the Full Programme Proposal on the Programme Approval and Management System?

Once you have completed the New Programme Proposal phase via the Programme Approval and Management System (via the intranet at and it has been approved for development by the Programme Management Board, you will need to complete the full programme proposal. The system will be opened up for you to complete the full proposal and the information you provided for the Programme Management Board will start the full proposal. The full proposal requires information across a range of areas, depending on the type of programme you are proposing (standard, research, standard collaborative or research collaborative). Full information on what you are required to provide in each section of the proposal is incorporated into the system, but is also available in (PAM guidance) summary.

How do I Gain Access to the Programme Approval and Management System?

The Programme Approval and Management system is accessed on the intranet under Academic Records>Courses>PAM If you have reached this stage you should already have permissions, but if not, or if additional colleagues require access, please contact Academic Quality Services

Where is my Programme on the Programme Approval and Management System?

You will only be able to see programmes in development for your subject area or Faculty/School in the Programme Approval and Management system (depending on your permissions). Programmes which have been approved by the Programme Management Board should be located in the ‘current proformas’ view on the left navigation pane, and under the academic year you plan to launch the programme. Please see the Programme Approval and Management System User Guide for more information. If you cannot see the programme you need access to please contact the Academic Quality Services

How do I Create a New Module?

Modules form the key building blocks for all programmes. All modules which are used as part of a programme, including new modules, must be approved by the Faculty/School Learning & Teaching Committee prior to inclusion within any proposal or review process, and all modules should be reviewed and, wherever possible, enhanced annually.

Full guidance on developing new modules is detailed in Developing and Approving New Modules and Reviewing and Enhancing Modules

Can I use Existing Modules for a New or Revised Programme Proposal?

Many programmes are made up of modules which are already delivered as part of other courses, which helps to build up a portfolio of modules, and also helps to develop a shared learning environment. All existing modules which are to be used as part of a new or revised programme, must be consistent with the overall syllabus and, in keeping with the character/ethos of the programme. Modules which have been inactivate for two years or longer must go back through the Programme Approval Committee approval process and cannot simply be ‘re-activated’ even if they are still officially approved within the 5 year approval window of the programme/s they were originally active within.

When presenting existing modules for use as part of new or revised programmes, you must ensure that these modules are updated by the relevant Module Co-ordinator and meet the standard expected for review by the Programme Approval Committee. ALL modules will be carefully reviewed by the Committee as they will form part of a new or revised programme, and any deficiencies will be highlighted for action.

Full guidance on enhancing existing modules is detailed in Developing and Approving New Modules and Reviewing and Enhancing Modules.

How do I Revise or Enhance Existing Modules, Especially if they are from Outside of my Subject Area or Faculty/School?

Any modules which will form part of a programme (whether core, compulsory or optional), from any Faculty, will be reviewed in detail by the Committee to ensure they are of the appropriate standard expected by the University. It is the responsibility of the Programme Proposer (as it will be the Programme Director’s responsibility should the programme be approved) to ensure that all modules within a programme of study are reviewed and updated regularly, and the syllabus, learning outcomes and assessment remain fit-for-purpose. When developing a new programme which requires the use of modules from other Faculties/Schools, the Proposal Team will be required to liaise with the relevant Module Co-ordinators to ensure the modules are updated (if required). If they are not updated to the relevant standard, this will risk the programme not being approved.

Full guidance on enhancing existing modules is detailed in Developing and Approving New Modules and Reviewing and Enhancing Modules.

What are Programme Pathways /Syllabus Rules and Why are they Important?

The Programme Pathway (also called Syllabus Rules) is the system the University uses to record and define which modules are included as core, compulsory or optional on each programme, and enables students to select modules online, and for the University to record and publish data on the unistats site as required by the Funding Council.

It is important that these are kept up to data and accurate, as this is what students will see on the main University website. In addition, the Programme Approval Committee will review the modules included on the Programme Pathway, which may lead to delays if these are not complete and accurate upon submission.

How can I Gain Access to the Relevant Programme Pathways/Syllabus Rules?

You should automatically have access to the relevant pathway(s) when you are assigned access to the Programme Approval and Management system, but if you cannot access, view or edit Programme Pathways please contact Academic Quality Services for support.

How do I Create a New Programme Pathway?

For any new programme, it is likely that a new Programme Pathway will need to be created. This will be completed for you by the Academic Records and Systems Team. Please contact Academic Quality Services for information and support.

How do I Update the Programme Pathways/Syllabus Rules?

Once you can access the Programme Pathway for your programme (which can be accessed through the Programme Proposal proforma in the Programme Approval and Management system under Programme Structure), it should be straightforward to create or edit the module selection for each year (by selecting create or edit next to the year and then adding modules either by inputting the codes or searching). You can then define the module status as compulsory or optional.

If you have any difficulties or would like further advice, please contact Academic Quality Services.


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